10Ya`aqovleft Beer-sheva and set out for Haran.11 Whenhe had reached a certain place, he stopped there for the night, since thesun had set.
Takingone of the stones of that place, he made it his pillow and lay down wherehe was.12He had adream: there was a stairway, planted on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and Elohim’s messengers were going up and down on it. 13Andthere was Yahweh, standing beside him and saying, ‘I, Yahweh, [am] theElohim of Avraham your father, and the Elohim of Yishaq. The groundon which you are lying I shall give to you and your descendants.14 Yourdescendants will be as plentiful as the dust on the ground; you will spreadout to west and east, to north and south, and all clans on earth will blessthemselves by you and your descendants.
15Besure, I am with you; I shall keep you safe wherever you go, and bring youback to this country, for I shall never desert you until I have done whatI have promised you.’
16ThenYa`aqov awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Truly, Yahweh is in this placeand I did not know!’ 17Hewas afraid and said, ‘How awe–inspiring this place is! This is nothingless than the abode of Elohim, and this is the gate of heaven!’18 Earlynext morning, Ya`aqov took the stone he had used for his pillow, and setit up as a pillar, pouring oil over the top of it. 19Henamed the place Bet-'El, but before that the town had been called Luz.20 Ya`aqovthen made this vow, ‘If Elohim remains with me and keeps me safe on thisjourney I am making, if he gives me food to eat and clothes to wear,21andif I come home safe to my father’s home, then Yahweh shall be my Elohim. 22Thisstone I have set up as a pillar is to be a house of Elohim, and I shallfaithfully pay you a tenth part of everything you give me.’
Shabbat Shalom,Have you ever cut a deal with God? Do this for me, give me that, allow this, and in return I willgive You my valuable worship! It sounds very insolent to say the least.But this is what Ya`aqov does.29.21ThenYa`aqov said to Lavan, ‘Give me my wife, for my time is up and I shouldlike to go to her.’ 22Lavangathered all the people of the place together, and gave a banquet.23 Butwhen night came, he took his daughter Le'ah and brought her to Ya`aqov, and he slept with her.24 (Lavangave his slave–girl Zilpah to his daughter Le'ah as her slave.) 25Whenmorning came, it was Le'ah! So Ya`aqov said to Lavan, ‘What have you doneto me? Did I not work for you for Rahel? Why then have you trickedme?’ 26Lavan replied,‘It is not the custom in our place to marry off the younger before theelder. 27Finish thismarriage week and I shall give you the other one too in return for yourworking for me for another seven years.’28Ya`aqov agreed and, when he had finished the week, Lavan gave him his daughterRa hel as his wife.29 (Lavangave his slave–girl Bilhah to his daughter Rahel as her slave.)30SoYa`aqov slept with Rahel too, and he loved Rahel more thanLe'ah. He worked for Lavan for another seven years.
There is a pitfall in seeing thepatriarchs and other biblical figures as models of faith and piety. They are not. The truth of the Tanak is its presentation of Yahwists as ordinary men with human attributes---yet who overcome and mature in their relationship with Yahweh. We cannot learn from supermen, or gods on earth.
Yishaq was a man of Yahweh, as wasAvraham but they both had their struggles with learning what Yahweh wanted, and applying their faith as they worked through their lives. Yahwism isa verb, not a state. The Yahwist is a Yahwist when he constantly seeksYahweh's Purpose in his life. It also involves the intellect, stubborness,quiet devotion and even manipulation as was shown by Rivqa's strength tomake Yahweh's Purpose made known to her come to pass when Yishaqhad become weak. Yahwists are not born, but forged in the furnace of theworld.
Ya`aqov, though he had seen Yishaq's relationship with Yahweh and Rivqa and knew of Avraham, still had not taken this to himself. Each generation must personally become conscious of Yahweh and cannot not rest upon the faith of their fathers and mothers. Yahwismis not inherited.
Yes, we can pass down traditions and practices and take all the external signs of Yahwistic culture, justas any culture is passed down anywhere in the world. But that will justcreate vessels of a certain design. Here is Ya`aqov's great discovery thatstrikes him with awe, making him tremble, as he clumsily removes the lid.His mind is still that of a child, and it is filled much like a small childsloshes juice on the floor as he attempts to fill a cup. But even childrenmust start somewhere, and Ya`aqov begins his own consciousness of Yahweh.
Here we have the first anointing of the Tanak, and a stone becomes a "mashiah" in a sense,signifying a point of intersection between Yahweh and His Purpose in regardto mankind. Later prophets and kings will be anointed and used.
Some interesting thoughts on Bet-Elare that the dream was a preview of the giving of the Torah as the numericvalue of Sinay (samek-yod-nun-yod) and sulam "ramp" stairway, or ladder (samek-lamed-mem) are both 130. Ya`aqov marks the place (Ha-Maqoma cult center) with a massebah or standing stone which islater condemned as associated with Canaanite religion. Whether it has phallicsymbolism or not, this illustrates what has been said: Ya`aqov, in spiteof his father, and as the patriarchs in general, must go continue in anongoing process of embracing Yahwism. He is not perfect, he as we are indevelopment.
31WhenYahweh saw that Le'ah was unloved, he opened her womb, while Rahelremained barren. 32Le'ahconceived and gave birth to a son whom she named Re'uven, meaning ‘Yahwehhas seen my misery’; and she said, ‘Now my husband will love me.’ 33Conceivingagain, she gave birth to a son and said, ‘Yahweh heard that I was unloved,and so he has given me this one too’; and she named him Shim`on.34 Againshe conceived and gave birth to a son, and said, ‘This time my husbandwill become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Accordingly,she named him Lewi.35 Againshe conceived and gave birth to a son, and said, ‘Now I shall praise Yahweh!’Accordingly, she named him Y'hudah. Then she had no more children.
Later on the practice of taking twosisters would be condemned, but it is here a custom of Haran. Ya`aqov findsout how troublesome foreign customs can be. We often see the biblical treatmentof women as property, and indeed the word for "husband" in Hebrew is ba`al"possessor" "owner" while the word for wife is actually 'ishah woman.Ya`aqov has four women at his disposal now, but he loves Rahel. Even insuch a potentially loveless, economic system, love comes into play, andoften (but not always as it has legal parameters with rights) it is thefactor that separates the wife who has distinct rights over servants (withfew rights), and concubines. Ya`aqov reverses the roles here and serves in order to obtain Rahel and incidently Le'ah.
30Rahel,seeing that she herself gave Ya`aqov no children, became jealous of hersister. And she said to Ya`aqov, ‘Give me children, or I shall die!’ 2Thismade Ya`aqov angry with Rahel, and he retorted, ‘Am I in the positionof ‘Elohim, who has denied you motherhood?’3 Soshe said, ‘Here is my slave–girl, Bilhah. Sleep with her and let her givebirth on my knees; through her, then, I too shall have children!’ 4Soshe gave him her slave–girl Bilhah as concubine. Ya`aqov slept with her,5 andBilhah conceived and gave birth to a son by Ya`aqov.
6ThenRahel said, ‘‘Elohim has done me justice; yes, he has heard my prayerand given me a son.’ Accordingly she named him Dan.7 AgainRahel’s slave–girl Bilhah conceived and gave birth to a second sonby Ya`aqov.8 Then Rahelsaid, ‘I have fought a fateful battle with my sister, and I have won!’So she named him Naftali.
9NowLe'ah, seeing that she had ceased to bear children, took her slave–girlZilpah and gave her to Ya`aqov as concubine. 10SoLe'ah’s slave–girl Zilpah gave birth to a son by Ya`aqov.11 ThenLe'ah exclaimed, ‘What good fortune!’ So she named him Gad. 12Le'ah’sslave–girl Zilpah gave birth to a second son by Ya`aqov.13 ThenLe'ah said, ‘What blessedness! Women will call me blessed!’ So she namedhim 'Asher.
14Oneday, at the time of the wheat harvest, Re'uven found some mandrakes inthe field and brought them to his mother Le'ah. Rahel said to Le'ah,‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’15 Le'ahreplied, ‘Is it not enough to have taken my husband, without your takingmy son’s mandrakes as well?’ So Rahel said, ‘Very well, he can sleepwith you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.’ 16WhenYa`aqov came back from the fields that night, Le'ah went out to meet himand said, ‘You must come to me, for I have hired you at the price of myson’s mandrakes.’ So he slept with her that night.
17‘Elohimheard Le'ah, and she conceived and gave birth to a fifth son by Ya`aqov.18 ThenLe'ah said, "‘Elohim has given me my reward for giving my slave–girl tomy husband.’ So she named him Yissaskar. 19AgainLe'ah conceived and gave birth to a sixth son by Ya`aqov,20 andsaid, ‘‘Elohim has given me a fine gift; now my husband will bring me presents,for I have borne him six sons.’ So she named him Zevulun.21Latershe gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22Then‘Elohim remembered Rahel; he heard her and opened her womb.23 Sheconceived and gave birth to a son, and said, ‘Elohim has taken away mydisgrace!’24 She namedhim Yosef, saying, ‘May Yahweh add another son for me!’
Againwomen are the focus of Yahweh. But here is a lesson. How often will anunloved woman seek her husband's love by having a child? All too oftenthis does not work and she mistakes his love for the child as love forher which will pass. A man can give a child to anyone, but not his loveeven totally disregarding a sincere and good woman desperate to do anything,even pretending that his love for the child is also for her. A man's lovecan be cruel. But Yahweh compensates Le'ah with children who will loveher and she can thus gain the love of Ya`aqov if only second-hand throughhis sons. Perhaps we can better depend on Yahweh's love and mercy ratherthan anothers'.
Re'uven: Yahwehhas seen / ra'ah my misery / be`anyi also, he will love me / ye'ahavani (<'ahav).
Shim`on: Yahwehhas heard / shama`
Lewi: "hewill become attached" / yillawah
Y'hudah: "Iwill praise Yahweh" / 'odeh 'et-yhwh
By Bilhah (Rahel)--
Dan (pronounced Dahn): "Elohim has judged for me (in my favor)" / danani 'elohim
Naftali: mightystruggles I have struggled / naftuley 'elohim niftalti
By Zilpah (Le'ah)--
Gad (pronounced God): With Luck / baggad
'Asher: infortune, indeed fortunateness of daughters = what fortune among daughters / 'ashri ki 'ishruni banot
By Le'ah again--
Yissaskar: my hire / sikari
Zevulun: "thistime he will value me" / happa`am yizbeleni
Yosef: mayYahweh add to me another son / yosef yhwh li ben 'aher
All of thesechildren by different women, and all these women and children belong toYa`aqov. They all make up the bases for the tribes of Israel. Althoughman considers the firstborn entitled to the birthright, we have seen thatYahweh is not bound by this human convention. And though Ya`aqov will bebound by his special love of Rahel and her child over Le'ah andher children, Yahweh's love is different than man's and it will be a sonof Le'ah that will have the more important descendants.